Denmark sent its first astronaut into space today, accompanied by 20 specially designed LEGO toys.
Andreas Mogensen, a 38-year-old aerospace engineer from Copenhagen, is en route with Russian cosmonaut Sergei Volkov and Kazakh cosmonaut Aidyn Aimbetov to the International Space Station, where he'll control an Earth-based robot and take photos of lightning and thunderstorms.
When the LEGO figures return to Earth, they'll be presented to Danish schoolchildren as prizes in a competition to create short movies about the European Space Agency's Iriss mission using LEGO's StoryStarter. The winners will be announced by Mogensen during his 10-day stay on the International Space Station. He's set to return Sept. 11.
The Russian Soyuz rocket carrying Mogensen and the LEGO figures lifted off even as the Danish toymaker announced its earnings for the first half of 2015 surpassed those of Mattel: LEGO's sales rose 18 percent, to $2.1 billion, compared to Mattel's $1.91 billion.